The Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) is a voluntary program for conservation-minded landowners who want to develop and improve wildlife habitat on agricultural land, nonindustrial private forest land, and Indian land.
WHIP is a voluntary approach to improving wildlife habitat in our Nation. The Natural Resources Conservation Service administers WHIP to provide both technical assistance and up to 75 percent cost-share assistance to establish and improve fish and wildlife habitat. WHIP cost-share agreements between NRCS and the participant generally last from one year after the last conservation practice is implemented but not more than 10 years from the date the agreement is signed.
WHIP encourages creation of high quality wildlife habitats that support wildlife populations of National, State, Tribal, and local significance. Through WHIP, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical and financial assistance to landowners and others to develop upland, wetland, riparian, and aquatic habitat areas on their property.
Since WHIP began in 1998, nearly 11,000 landowners have enrolled more than 1.6 million acres. Most efforts have concentrated on improving upland wildlife habitat, such as native prairie, but there is an increasing emphasis on riparian and aquatic habitat areas. WHIP is available in all 50 States, the Caribbean Area (Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands),and the Pacific Basin Area (Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands).To participate in WHIP, NRCS State offices must submit a State WHIP plan.
Eligible lands under the program are:
To be eligible, an entity must own or have control of the land to be enrolled in the program for the duration of the agreement period. The Adjusted Gross Income provision of the 2002 Farm Bill impacts eligibility for WHIP and several other 2002 Farm Bill programs. Individuals or entities that have an average adjusted gross income exceeding $2.5 million for the three tax years immediately preceding the year the contract is approved are not eligible to receive program benefits or payments. However, an exemption is provided in cases where 75 percent of the adjusted gross income is derived from farming, ranching, or forestry operations. The final rule for this provision has not yet been published.
Land already enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, Water Bank Program, or Emergency Watershed Protection Program floodplain easement component is not eligible for WHIP.NRCS also may determine land is not eligible if on-site or off-site conditions might undermine the benefits of wildlife habitat development.
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